Former Finance Minister Edward Scicluna, who was in the position between 2013 and 2020, defended himself from questions raised about his treatment of the now-shuttered Pilatus Bank, distancing himself from the scandal in comments provided to The Times of Malta.
Now Governor of the Central Bank of Malta (CBM), he told the newsroom:
“I admit to defending my country and its regulatory institutions when I felt they were being unfairly treated by the European institutions. But I never defended a particular bank, least of all Pilatus.”
The past two weeks saw Pilatus Bank hit with a record €4.9 million fine as well as criminal proceedings being launched against the bank, its former director, and others.
Serious concerns about money laundering breaches had been raised by Malta’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) way back in 2016. A subsequent investigation by the FIAU then gave the bank a clean bill of health. And, two years later, the bank was eventually closed after losing its licence by the European Central Bank.
It had been central to allegations against former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s wife, Michelle, with now-murdered journalist claiming a Panamanian company, Egrant, held by Mrs Muscat held a bank account at Pilatus. An inquiry into the Egrant claims found no evidence of links with the Muscats.
The CBM Governor also argued that he was “instrumental” in Malta’s first money laundering risk assessment in 2013, adding that he always gave full moral support to the current and previous FIAU directors.
The former Finance Minister had raised eyebrows following the 2017 general election when Labour was re-voted into power. He had implied that FIAU reports on Pilatus and former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri had been written to be leaked.
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